Unpopular opinion – I’m not a big fan of supper clubs. I like to stuff my face in private without making forced conversations with strangers, thank you. However, once in a while, I make an exception. Especially when Ash Lee holds one of her rare clubs by the name of Chi Fan, serving the bestest Shanghai food ever available in Berlin.
So, as said, not a fan of that immensely popular concept called supper club, but I do understand that it’s an important platform for chefs to experiment, and that it’s sometimes even the better food, because groups are small and the contact to the chefs is much closer – and other people are enjoying spontaneous conversations with people you never met before. Also noted, we had a wonderful time with the others at this particular Chi Fan, all of whom never went to a supper club before exactly because of that reason, and were pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it can be. Back to the food:
Ash Lee came to Berlin from Shanghai a couple of years ago and I met her at another private dinner event, that was outright wonderful: Somewhere at Plau am See. Since then, I jump at every occasion to eat her food, especially when her clubs are vegetarian themed like last Friday.
There’s actually pretty good Chinese food in Berlin, but not much of it is very contemporary or creative – this is why you go to Chi Fan. In a ten course meal, Ash cooks up several cold and hot dishes, all of them loaded with flavor but still so light you can make it through the whole dinner. With the help of the strong Chinese schnaps served at the end, admittedly. The food is accompanied by several cold teas and a tea lemonade, and finished with a distinct Chinese dessert. This time, my highlights were the crushed cucumber salad with crunchy peanuts and fresh garlic that had a lovely radish like spice, much like wasabi, as well as the pak choi with fermented bean sauce, that was so milky and wonderful, the noodles with mushrooms and gluten balls and the cured bamboo shoot salad with wonderful spicy chili. While I call these highlights, the rest is just equally delicious – the chicken like tofu, tightly rolled layers of tofu brewed in an aromatic fond, and the dumplings with chili oil and peanut sauce, and everything else, basically.
Ash is explaining every dish, adding one or two personal stories of how she got the product – the bamboo shoots were frozen, while there are fresh winter bamboo shoots to be bought in Berlin, she needed the spring ones for this dish, just to name an example – and this makes the dinner only more enjoyable.
Chi Fan is a bit hard to get by (trying to convince Ash to throw a bigger dinner at a bigger space soon, will keep you updated), best is to subscribe to the mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her facebook page and register for a seat as soon as you get that mail! The ten course dinner we enjoyed was a mere 35 Euros, what a catch!